Posts Tagged ‘modern day slavery’

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Tomorrow, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog I’ve certainly rattled this cage many times–there are more slaves right now than at any other time in history–here in the United States as well as internationally. Children and adults, in the sex trade, garment workers, agriculture workers, housework, construction laborers…indentured servants, sexual slaves, entire families in debt bondage. Tomorrow is a day to talk about it (as is every day), to shine light on this shameful fact of our life. Presidential hopefuls are campaigning but will never mention this (at least one portion of the issue is too fraught with unpopular opinions about illegal immigration and cheap, next-to-free labor picking our food for our dinner tables). Sexual slavery clientele–the end user of that “product” if you will, is practically a codified part of Washington wink-wink-and-a-knowing-glance life in some good ol’ boy networks. (But please never think it is a regional problem–it is worldwide where kids are sold into prostitution on the streets, in brothels, and over the Internet).

ATEST (the Alliance To End Slavery and Trafficking) wants us to talk about it and keep talking about it. Give our business to those who defy the system of slavery (travel and tourism are some of the areas where this comes into play most)…look to The Code (by ECPAT–End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) to make travel decisions–these tourism businesses have signed a pledge to actively fight against modern-day slavery and trafficking of children.

You truly can make a difference with the way you spend and travel. So in addition to going on a volunteer vacation to change the world for the better with your involvement on a project, make sure that the sources and suppliers in your personal consumption chain make a difference as well.

Sanctuary Spring: Cards That Make a Difference

Photo: Sanctuary Spring

You’ve already sent and received your December holiday cards this year (unless you’re like me and moved and still haven’t unpacked or found the box with cards…or the address book), but greeting cards are perennial, and in the United States we spend about $13 billion per year on cards (perhaps one of the last things keeping the post office running). They are meaningful as they commemorate birthdays and anniversaries, retirement, new job, the passing of a loved one, graduation, fathers/mothers/grandparents/secretaries day, thanks, thinking of you, love and loss and light all summed up and acknowledged on a folded piece of heavy-stock paper. Now you can add an entire new layer of meaning by helping a woman rebuild her life when you obtain your cards from Sanctuary Spring.

Batik Card: Sanctuary Spring

The card-making company exclusively employs women in the Philippines who are escaping prostitution. Some were forced or tricked into the sex trade, some turned there when all other options seemed hopeless, but every one of them is looking for a new beginning, and finding it working for this organization. Your purchase of these fair-trade cards helps sustain programs to assist the women in the program while also providing a living wage so they can care for their families and provide food and education. The cards themselves are beautiful with handmade recycled papers and vibrant colors, some are humorous, some elegant, some bold, some understated–you’ll find what you’re looking for when you shop online, here. And more importantly, you’ll help women find what THEY are looking for as well, a turn in the road of life.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day–January 11

Some of the annual”X, Y, and Z DAY” proclamations are fun…National Ice Cream Day…International Jumprope Day…American Chocolate Week. But today sucks. It is a travesty that a day like today needs to be proclaimed…Human Trafficking Awareness Day. There are millions in our world that are held in forced labor situations, sold or coerced into the sex trade, restavek children (institutional slavery in Haiti), and more. Freedom of choice has been removed from the equation for so many.

While it seems like it is, this is not an issue that happens “over there” or “way back when” but is happening, right now, all around us. It is far more comfortable to think slavery is an issue dealt with by ancestors or other cultures, but it an issue in our midst. The United States is a HUGE purveyor of slaves in each of the industries where they are kept working against their will (sex, farmworkers/agriculture, fashion/apparel, domestic work, industry, etc). The very least we can do is educate ourselves, and be proactive. Find out more at events and online educational outreach today (or tomorrow or next week or any time, as long as it’s soon). Start here ( and here (Free the Slaves), and then keep on digging. Your voice and action truly count and can make a difference.

Polaris Project—Fighting Slavery Today

It is the second largest, and fastest growing, criminal industry in our world, and yes, slavery is happening “over there” even now…but it is happening “over here” too…right now…today.

The Polaris Project is named for the North Star, Polaris, that guided slaves toward freedom along the Underground Railroad, and is an organization that is committed to combating human trafficking and modern day slavery. There are several great organizations committed to ending slavery and trafficking, this one with operations based in Washington DC, Newark, NJ, and Tokyo, Japan. Polaris Project is one of the few organizations working on all forms of trafficking and serving both citizen and foreign national victims of human trafficking. Their comprehensive approach includes direct outreach and victim identification, providing social services and transitional housing to victims, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC—the central national hotline on human trafficking), advocating for stronger state and Federal anti-trafficking legislation, training law enforcement and service providers, and engaging community members in local and national grassroots efforts.

The U.S. State Department estimates that 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked illegally into this country each year for the sex trade or as involuntary servants. That is just the number of foreign slaves brought to the United States every year. The numbers are, of course, much higher on the international scale, and US statistics also rise when you include US citizens who are forced into modern day slavery—worldwide the numbers are at about twenty-seven million. 50% of the victims are children, under the age of 18, and 80% of the victims are female. Children pushed into the sex trade are forced into prostitution by the age of 12-14 years old…and this is a late start for some who begin being professionally assaulted before their age hits double digits.

The Polaris Project Action Center has ways for you to get involved. Don’t be a passive bystander while this continues, and grows. There are volunteer opportunities as well as action alerts and advocacy suggestions to help spread the word, lobby for change, and turn this unconscionable situation around. Take a stand.